HOWTO: IM­PROVE THE CA­BLE SHIFT ON YOUR 996 GEAR­BOX

Mod­ern Porsches have what are usu­ally re­as­sur­ingly smooth and pre­cise ca­ble-op­er­ated gear shifts, but even these can be­come stiff and awk­ward, es­pe­cially in hard-driven cars like the GT3 – and some­times the ca­bles be­come de­tached from their bracket on the

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

Re­vi­tal­is­ing the ca­ble shift on mod­ern 911s, Boxsters and Cay­mans

An­other month, an­other 911 gear-shift story. No apolo­gies for any ap­par­ent du­pli­ca­tion or rep­e­ti­tion, though, be­cause the car shown here, an early 996 GT3, is in this re­spect – and many oth­ers, of course – about as dif­fer­ent from the 911SC that we looked at back in the September is­sue as it is pos­si­ble to be.

The sys­tem is ca­ble-op­er­ated, for a start, where the SC’S re­lies on the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of a rail­road turnout link­age, and we re­placed as a mat­ter of rou­tine the en­tire plas­tic gear-shift mech­a­nism – no point in a car of this na­ture (and po­ten­tial value) tak­ing any chances with the qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity of the vi­tal in­ter­face be­tween your hand and the gear­box be­hind you, trans­mit­ting per­haps 380bhp and 385Nm. The method­ol­ogy shown is very slightly pe­cu­liar to the GT3, but the broad prin­ci­ples are much the same across the en­tire 996 Car­rera range, as well as the 997. (Both the Boxster/cay­man have a sim­i­lar set-up, too, but in those cars the ca­bles run through the en­gine com­part­ment, re­quir­ing the re­moval of both ac­cess pan­els. Some other time.)

The cen­tre tun­nel fin­isher has to come off – which can seem a lit­tle daunt­ing, but is ac­tu­ally quite straight­for­ward – and you then need to get yourself safely un­der the car in or­der to dis­con­nect the rear end of each of the two ca­bles from the right-hand side of the trans­mis­sion cas­ing. Nor­mally these would be sim­ply clipped into place on a sturdy me­tal bracket, but such has proved to be the in­her­ent fragility of the clips that many cars – like this one – will have had them fur­ther se­cured with com­mon-or­gar­den plas­tic ca­ble-ties. And un­sur­pris­ingly Porsche-torque’s Sid Ma­lik – our man on the span­ners for the day – later se­cured the new ca­bles in pre­cisely the same way. Once bit­ten, twice shy.

We should con­fess that on this oc­ca­sion we came into the job a short time after Sid had started work, and so missed the pre­lim­i­nary dis­man­tling stages in­side the car. For that rea­son we have shown – un­usu­ally for one of these how-to sto­ries – all as­pects of the re­assem­bly process. Bear that in mind, then, be­fore you start ca­su­ally pulling your own car apart.

No spe­cial tools are nec­es­sary, al­though you will need a solidly mounted large vice to hold the old gear-shift mech­a­nism firmly enough to al­low you to pull the trimmed knob off the blade-like shift lever proper. You will also need some rub­ber lu­bri­cant, to help the ca­bles slide through their large seal­ing grom­met, and then the grom­met it­self into the hole in the cen­tre tun­nel.

The two ca­bles (and they are sold only as a pair) cur­rently cost £210 plus VAT from Porsche, and the shift mech­a­nism just £131 plus VAT – an­other good rea­son for bin­ning the old one un­less it is very ob­vi­ously in per­fect con­di­tion. Fit­ting times will vary de­pend­ing upon your abil­i­ties and fa­cil­i­ties – and any other tasks you find need do­ing, such as clean­ing and paint­ing the shift ca­bles’ mount­ing bracket, or per­haps chang­ing the trans­mis­sion oil – but Sid charged this out at three hours. And that, re­mark­ably for a car of this spe­cialised na­ture, is about it. Full de­tails in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing pho­tos, and their hope­fully ex­haus­tively in­for­ma­tive cap­tions. PW

Mod­ern Porsches have a gear-shift lever linked to the trans­mis­sion by what are es­sen­tially high­tech Bowden ca­bles. Sim­ple and ef­fec­tive, but over a long pe­riod they can be­come al­most as stiff and ob­struc­tive as the old-fash­ioned ro­dand-pivot mech­a­nism of the air-cooled cars. And the spring-clips se­cur­ing them to the bracket on the side of the trans­mis­sion of­ten fail, an ob­vi­ous fur­ther cause of poor shift qual­ity – or even missed shifts, with all the con­se­quences they bring. The ca­bles are not too dif­fi­cult to re­place, al­though you do need safe ac­cess to the un­der­side of the car. Ve­hi­cle shown here is an early 996 GT3, but the same ba­sic prin­ci­ples ap­ply right across the board to the con­tem­po­rary Car­reras, plus the Boxster and Cay­man. Thanks to Sid Ma­lik at Porsche-torque in Uxbridge for his help with this how-to story: 01895 814446; porsche-torque.co.uk

It is not strictly nec­es­sary to re­place the en­tire gear-shift lever, as well as the ca­bles, but given both its mod­est price and its in­flu­ence on the shift qual­ity, why not go the ex­tra mile? It comes from the fac­tory with a white plas­tic clip se­cur­ing the lever in neu­tral. Leave that in place un­til, with the gear­box also in neu­tral, the ca­bles have been at­tached. This should en­sure that all seven ra­tios can be se­lected with­out ad­di­tional ad­just­ment. The outer ca­bles are se­cured via spring­clips not un­like the ones at the gear­box end, and then the in­ners can be pressed down into the chan­nels emerg­ing from the base of the shift lever. Let them as­sume their own po­si­tion; don’t ap­ply any lon­gi­tu­di­nal ten­sion. Ob­vi­ously the match­ing ridges and grooves are de­signed to pro­vide a se­cure grip, and the spring-loaded cov­ers, flicked from their open po­si­tion with a screw­driver blade, fin­ish the job. Fit the plas­tic cover over the ca­ble ends, and fi­nally re­move shift lever’s tem­po­rary lock­ing bar

The two new ca­bles should be a nice, pos­i­tive fit in the bracket, slot­ting into place with an au­di­ble click; push the ends of each clip home with a screw­driver blade to make sure. Just as the socket on the old ca­ble was prised off the ball with a screw­driver, gen­tly squeeze the new one on with a pair of wa­ter-pump pli­ers. Ca­ble-ties shouldn’t be nec­es­sary at this stage, but wisely, and based on long ex­pe­ri­ence, Sid was tak­ing no chances (left). They cer­tainly can’t do any harm

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